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Aaron Finch seals Champions Trophy opening role with century

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Hafiz Salman

- newbie

A CENTURY from Aaron Finch and an unbeaten 85 from Travis Head guided Australia to a two-wicket win over Sri Lanka in an entertaining Champions Trophy warm-up fixture at The Oval.

Chasing 319 after Angelo Mathews’ side posted 7-318, Finch hit 137 in an innings that contained 11 fours and six sixes before Head got the side over the line with two balls to spare as Australia made 8-320.

Finch brought up his century in style by smashing a straight six off Asela Gunaratne to rubber stamp his spot at the top of the order for the tournament opener against New Zealand next Friday.

However, there will be some concerns about the failure of the middle order to fire with Chris Lynn (18), Glenn Maxwell (0) Moises Henriques (10), Matthew Wade (13) and Marcus Stoinis (15) all falling cheaply.

Skipper Steve Smith was rested after only arriving in London on Monday afternoon following Sunday’s IPL final.

Australian coach Darren Lehman named a 12-man squad with Josh Hazlewood permitted to bowl but not bat.

Mitchell Starc, who has been out of action since fracturing his foot during the second Test against India in March, was also left out along with John Hastings. The trio will play on Monday against Pakistan at Edgbaston in the team’s final hitout.

David Warner departed for 19 on Friday when he was caught behind off Nuwan Pradeep and was soon joined by Lynn who was caught in the deep by Kasul Mendis for 18.

Henriques was run out by Pradeep who then bowled Finch before trapping Maxwell lbw for a first-ball duck.

Wade followed him back to the pavilion when he chopped a Lasith Malinga delivery onto his stumps.

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Head brought up his 50 in the 43rd over before Stoinis was brilliantly caught on the boundary by Chandimal leaving Australia in trouble at 7-274 with five overs remaining.

But the South Australian and Pat Cummins (5) were unbeaten at the close to give Australia a winning start to their tour.

Henriques was the pick of the bowlers for Australia and took 3/46 from eight overs. Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Cummins and Head each took one wicket.

Finch played down the significance of his century, which has almost certainly earned him a spot against the Black Caps.

“You don’t win a tournament in a warm-up,” Finch said.

“I have tinkered with a few things in my technique over the last few weeks and it seemed to feel pretty good today.

“The outfield was lightning and the pitch beautiful and any time you beat the fielder it was four.”

The opener was full of praise for the role played by Head in securing the win with another mature display from the 23-year-old South Australian captain. “He played fantastic today,” he said.

“The amount of one-day cricket he’s played now is the mix of a bit of naivety and experience.

“It’s a great balance. He is a hugely talented player. He can hit the ball to all parts, bowls good offspin and is good in the field.

“He’s become the complete package as a player.”

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